Thursday, July 31, 2014

‘Summer blockbusters coming to a theater near you’

Actually these movies probably will not be showing at a theater near you, nor will they likely be blockbusters. These are independent films, and they simply do not get wide distribution, but if they interest you, maybe they will be found through any of the home-viewing options out there. I do know these movies will be screened at the Quad on 13th Street in Greenwich Village in coming weeks.

Kabbalah Me
First Run Features, 80 minutes, documentary.
Directed by Steven Bram.

From the publicity:

Kabbalah Me is a personal journey into the esoteric spiritual phenomenon known as Kabbalah. Throughout history, Kabbalah was studied by only the most holy Talmud scholars. The misinformation, innuendo and prohibition surrounding Kabbalah kept its wisdom from most Jews; many were even unaware of its existence.

In Kabbalah Me, director Steven Bram embarks on a spiritual investigation that leads him to reunite with the Hasidic branch of his family and connect to the community of Judaic scholarship. Eventually his curiosity takes him on a pilgrimage to Israel, where he immerses himself in history and traditions of the Holy Land.

Along the way, leading authorities discuss the complex, mystical world of Kabbalah – its varying interpretations and the myriad paths of its rituals and lessons. Bram’s new commitment to spirituality and religious observance draws skepticism from family and friends but ultimately leads to profound changes across all aspects of his life.

Director Steven Bram will be present at select opening weekend shows.

The Rule
Bongiomo Productions, 90 minutes, documentary.
Directed by Marylou Bongiomo and Jerome Bongiomo.

From the publicity:

The Rule details how and why the Benedictine monks of New Jersey’s Newark Abbey and its school, St. Benedict’s Prep, are able to achieve amazing success with America’s most vulnerable population: inner-city African-American and Latino teenaged males. While Newark, with a very high poverty rate of 32 percent, has an abysmal high school graduation rate of only 22 percent, St. Benedict’s has a near 100 percent college acceptance rate. The Rule presents their “recipe for success” as a model for whole cities nationwide.

View trailer here.

Rabindranath Tagore: The Poet of Eternity
Sixty minutes, documentary.
Directed by Partha Bhattacharya.

From the publicity:

The film develops Rabindranath Tagore’s (1861-1941) genius and his contribution in arts, music, literature, philosophy, and education. It exemplifies the poet’s impact on world leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi and prolific thinkers such as Albert Einstein and Bertrand Russell.

The film highlights the recognition of poet Tagore by the UN and UNESCO in 2010 as a world teacher, guru for all mankind in a celebration in Paris, paying tribute to him as an educator and a humanist. Rabindranath established Vishwa Bharati, an international university at Shantiniketan, West Bengal where European and Asian professors taught, and students came from far and wide to study.

The film examines Rabindranath, a prolific writer, poet, and author who composed more than 4,000 poems and songs; dance dramas, novels, short stories, essays, and travel diaries, plus nearly 3,000 paintings. It shows worldwide sesquicentennial anniversary celebrations of his birth.

The film famously notes that Rabindranath never reconciled to the fact that World War I started after he was awarded the Nobel Prize. The messenger of peace and universal man lectured in more than 30 countries, preaching harmony and peace for the next 25 years. And yet, when World War II loomed large, the poet was beside himself with grief. He begged earnestly to poet Noguchi in Japan and to U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt in vain for peace. The poet breathed his last in August, 1941.

View trailer here.

Monday, July 28, 2014

‘High Degrees discussion in Maryland’

Unfortunately the deadline for reservations was Friday, but I’ll announce just FYI that the Maryland Masonic Research Society will host its 11th Annual Festive Board next Monday in Columbia, Maryland. The speakers for the evening will be S. Brent Morris and Arturo de Hoyos, presenting “The First Two Exposures of the High Degrees of Masonry.” From the publicity:

The first alleged exposure of Masonic degrees was published in 1723, and the first alleged exposure of the Master Mason Degree was in 1730. It was 33 years later that Conversations Allegoriques revealed the catechisms of ten degrees after Master Mason, and in 1766 Les Plus Secrets Mysteres des Hauts Grades de la Maçonnerie Dévoilés gave the full rituals (with costumes, scenery, props, and stage directions) for seven high degrees. Arturo de Hoyos and S. Brent Morris translated these books in 2011 and 2012 for the Scottish Rite Research Society. Their talk will discuss the evolution of high degrees and the significance of these two books.

These renowned scholars and authors will be available for book-signings after the program.

The Maryland Masonic Research Society is an independent group consisting of Masons from a variety of jurisdictions united for Masonic education and fellowship.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

‘Grand Master’s Day next month’

Usually held on the first Sunday of October, Grand Master’s Day this year is scheduled for Sunday, August 24. The typical great day of events remains unchanged. From the publicity:

Magpie file photo
DeWint House in Tappan, NY.
MW William J. Thomas, Grand Master of Masons in the State of New York, will make the annual Grand Master’s Day visit to DeWint House, the George Washington Historic Site at Tappan, New York on Sunday, August 24. Masons, families, and friends are invited.

10 a.m. – Worship service at Tappan Reformed Church, located at 32 Old Tappan Road.

11:30 – Luncheon at Old ’76 House, at 110 Main Street. $25 per person in advance only. Make checks payable to Old ’76 House, and mail to Robert Blanke, 27 Pine Lane, New City, NY 10956-6534 no later than August 14.

Magpie file photo
Old '76 House, a great place to eat and drink, and a historic site itself.

1 p.m. – Grand Master’s Day Ceremonies at DeWint House, located at 20 Livingston Street.


An honor guard from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, accompanied by the National Sojourners and the Heroes of ’76, who will present the flag of the United States.

Back by popular demand, we will enjoy the choral group Chorus of the Tappan Zee, singing patriotic songs during the program.

Jeffrey M. Williamson
Remarks by the Deputy Grand Master, RW Jeffrey M. Williamson; and the Address by MW Grand Master William J. Thomas.

Tree dedication honoring RW Norman Moon, Chairman Emeritus of the DeWint House Committee.

Light refreshments will be served following completion of the program.

Everyone is invited to this affair. Bring your families and friends. We always try to promote this beautiful site. Anyone interested in the history of our country, this site had a part in that formation. If you have never been there, now is the time to do it. See the beautiful grounds, and walk in the footsteps of George Washington and his troops. Honor our Grand Master with your presence as Masons. The committee will be happy to show you to the interior of the DeWint House and the Carriage House, filled with artifacts from the Colonial era. This is a site that will fill you with much pride.

For further information, contact RW Louis Irizarry at athelstanian839(at)yahoo(dot)com

I also encourage attendance at Grand Master’s Day. I know Sunday is less than perfect timing for Masonic doings, but even if you want to forego the brunch (you’d be foolish) and the church service, and attend only the event at DeWint House, you’d be glad you did. It’s not an all-day affair. It starts on time at one o’clock and concludes in about an hour. Tour the museums. In addition to the period furnished DeWint House itself, there is the Carriage House, which is packed with antiques and interesting things to see. The grounds of DeWint House are beautiful, with many exotic trees, plenty of flowers, historic sights, etc. It’s always a great day. Click here to see photos of past events at this treasure of a site.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

‘A new Fama translation 400 years on’

Enigmatic literature of the esoteric world is at its most powerful when it intrigues and inspires occultist practitioner, academic scholar, and candid seeker alike, and the mysterious Fama Fraternitatis has stood the test of time for these reasons, despite there never being a high quality adaptation into English of the original German text. Leave it to Dr. Christopher McIntosh and  wife Donate Pahnke McIntosh to bring the classic text into the 21st century with this brand new English translation in the quadricentenary year of the Fama’s first publication. Donate McIntosh also has produced a translation into modern German.

The Fama—its full title reads: Fama Fraternitatis: Manifesto of the Most Praiseworthy Order of the Rosy Cross, addressed to all the rulers, estates and learned of Europe—is perhaps to Rosicrucianism what the Declaration of Independence is to the United States. Its message is an announcement to the world of the existence of the mysterious order, and it arrived at a time when Protestantism was setting free Christianity from the confines of Rome. Its authorship is legendary, meaning no one is sure of the exact who, what, and why. It’s even said that the author meant it as a prank, or a gambit of disinformation to protect something and someone else.

Regardless, values like truth have layered significance in the esoteric world. Factual accuracy sometimes ranks behind intuitive import when romantic types are attempting to define their spiritual lives. Sometimes believing is seeing.

And sometimes that’s okay.

I do not have a copy of this new paperback yet, so for description I will just share what Amazon offers:

Christopher McIntosh
at the 2011 Rose Circle
conference in NYC.
The seminal document known as the Fama Fraternitatis (the Proclamation of the Fraternity) burst like a firework over Europe in the early 17th century, igniting the imagination of many with its story of the German seeker Christian Rosenkreuz, his journey through the Middle East in search of wisdom, and his creation of the esoteric Rosicrucian Fraternity.

The first of three so-called Rosicrucian Manifestos, it has hitherto received no adequate English translation. Now, to mark the 400th anniversary of the original German publication in 1614, Christopher McIntosh and Donate Pahnke McIntosh have produced an English rendering, based on careful study of printed and manuscript versions. This edition is an essential resource for all who are drawn to Rosicrucianism, whether as a field of study or a spiritual path.

Paperback: 62 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (June 25, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1499555482
ISBN-13: 978-1499555486

About the Author: Dr. Christopher McIntosh is a writer and historian specializing in the esoteric traditions of the West. Earlier in his life he worked in publishing in London and subsequently for the United Nations in New York and UNESCO in Hamburg and has travelled throughout the world. He was for several years on the faculty of the Centre for the Study of Esotericism at Exeter University. He lives in Bremen, Germany. Dr. Donate Pahnke McIntosh is a scholar of religion and was for many years standing a lecturer at the University of Bremen, specializing in Gender Studies, Esotericism, and Ritual. She runs the Selene Institute for Ritual in Bremen. Her work as a translater includes books, articles, lectures, poetry and regular translating for the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning, Hamburg.

Monday, July 21, 2014

‘ICHF 2015 canceled’

Word is getting out—there may even be an official announcement somewhere, although I do not see it on the web—that the International Conference on the History of Freemasonry scheduled for 2015 in Ontario is canceled. Ontario Masons instead are said to be attempting to organize something under their own auspices.

Anyone possessing more facts is asked to provide them in the comments section below.

ICHF 2017 is slated to take place in England as part of the celebration of the tercentenary of the birth of the Premier Grand Lodge.


‘Philately Freemasons to examine Harry Potter symbolism’

The George Washington Masonic Stamp Club meets twice annually, and its second gathering of 2014 will take place Saturday, August 30 at the Baltimore Philatelic Exposition, President Walter Benesch announced during the weekend.

The club initiates members with a Master of Philately ritual, and dues consist of a single $20 payment for lifetime membership. Masons who in any way are interested in the unique mode of art collecting called philately should join.

The August 30 meeting will be held at the Hunt Valley Inn, across the highway from the Grand Lodge of Maryland, and will be open to the public. The program for the session will be “Is Harry Potter a Master Mason?” which will look at the Masonic symbolism found in the J.K. Rowling’s books. “This has been a very popular talk at various lodges, Masonic research organizations, and other Masonic bodies,” Benesch said. “What will be different is that some unique Harry Potter philately may come up for auction.”

Courtesy U.S. Postal Service
The U.S. Postal Service issued a series of twenty First Class “Forever” stamps inspired by the Harry Potter stories last November. Benesch explained how covers with the stamps were cancelled by the Mt. Vernon Post Office using the GWMSC cancellation stamp on February 22, 2014 (George Washington’s birthday). “This is a complete set of the stamps, one stamp per cover, with club’s Masonic cancellation,” He said. “There is only one such set in the world. The set will be up for sale, provided a collector is interested, and the proceeds of the sale of this collection of covers will go to support the club expenses and its selected charity.”

The meeting next month also will include door prizes and the sales of previous club covers. There may be balloting on prospective new members, although Master of Philately is conferred only at the annual meetings, the next to be held Sunday, February 22, 2015.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

‘Intendants of the Building’

A mid-summer announcement from the Grand Lodge of New York, F&AM. Masonic Hall, the headquarters in Manhattan, will undergo some big changes, and it is time to say goodbye to a few familiar, beloved lodge meeting spaces.

I KNEW HIM WHEN—Happy times in the American Room include the Public Apron Presentation to then RW Bro. Bill Thomas, Grand Treasurer of the Grand Lodge of New York in September  2010. The entire 19th floor of Masonic Hall is slated for conversion to commercial rental property to enhance revenue for Grand Lodge. Here, Bill, now Grand Master, and wife Susan make their exit at the end of the night.

From the Board of Trustees
of the Masonic Hall and Home

As many of you have heard and as mentioned during our Grand Master’s Message on St. John’s Day Weekend, we have embarked on a major renovation project at the Masonic Hall in New York City. The project will include providing air conditioning to all the eleven lodge rooms, converting the Jacobean Room on the eighth floor and the French Ionic Room on the tenth floor to very elegant collation rooms and substantial alterations to the second floor banquet room to better serve the lodges, daytime tenants of the facilities, and for outside users. We will be converting the 19th floor to commercial space after the changes have been made on the other floors.

ROSE CIRCLE THINKINGOther American Room memories include the April 2008 Rose Circle Research Foundation conference, an amazing, mind-roasting day of enlightenment. Our speakers, from left: Michael A. Evans, Cliff Jacobs, Steve Vitale, Chic Cicero, Tabatha Cicero, who killed by the way, showing the audience never-before-seen A.E. Waite drawn tarot images; and Henry Marx.

The reasons are many including:

1. Providing air conditioning for those lodges who wish to conduct meetings and degree work in the summer months and even for those installations in June when it can get uncomfortably warm.

2. Provide more elegant collation rooms for special lodge social events, presentations, ladies’ nights, table lodges and training sessions.

Courtesy Bill Thomas
The Jacobean Room on eight.

3. Improve the second floor for the daytime seminars which were held 112 times last year. The improvements include up-to-date audio, data, and video capabilities.

4. The pantries serving the three floors will have full services including hot water heaters, refrigerators, ice makers, dishwashers, food warmers, sinks and cabinets for storage. For those who use Masonic Hall for their meetings and collations.

5. We wish to make better use of our facilities. Our lodge rooms are currently used less than 50 percent of the time.

FRENCH IONIC INSPIRATIONMany warm memories of the French Ionic Room involve years of Communications of The American Lodge of Research. Shown here are then Worshipful Master Bill Thomas and Livingston Library Executive Director Tom Savini on October 29, 2008, the night the library's newly acquired facsimile of the Chinon Parchment and other Vatican documents pertaining to the Knights Templar were shown to the brethren. It is a gorgeous room, vibrant with color and texture.

6. By increasing the use of the rooms by non-masons, we can offset the continual cost increases we have had over the past decade. Our goal is to stabilize the costs to our lodges.

7. By having more commercial space available, we can continue our contributions for many of the programs and projects sponsored by the Board of Trustees such as Camp Turk, Empire State Mason magazine, the Livingston Library, the Masonic Care Community, Tompkins Chapel renovations, educational assistance, etc.

Some have expressed concerns, which need to be clarified: We are not increasing the rates for those lodges being moved from the 19th floor. It is our strong hope that the costs for second floor as well as the eighth and ninth floor collation rooms will remain at the current rates through next year. The 19th floor will still be available until January 1,
2015 so that it can be used for December functions. The current yearly rates for the lodge rooms are good for all 12 months. No lodge will be moved to accommodate an outside user, and if we would desire to make such a change, we will seek the lodges’ full consent. We expect all the work for the collation and pantry rooms to be done by September 15. The air conditioning will be in place before the cooling season in March of 2015.

We are excited about these changes and feel that they will have a dramatic impact on our Masonic Hall.

RW Griffith Jones, III
Trustees of the Masonic Hall and Home

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

‘Upcoming Events in Freemasonry’

I can’t get to any of these, but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t.

Saturday, July 19 – A big day in New York Capitular Masonry indeed. At 9:30 a.m. a short ceremony in front of the RAM Medical Research wing on the Utica Campus will honor ME Edmund ‘Ted’ Harrison, the first General Grand High Priest from New York State in more than 50 years, by presenting a $100,000 check from the RAM Medical Research Foundation. The patio before the building will be dedicated to Ted. All are invited to attend this open ceremony. Royal Arch Masons may wear red jackets.

July 25-27 – A grand event held annually by the Nobles of Mecca Shrine in New York City: Florence Weekend. Actually it used to be Florence Day, but Mecca exhibits great panache and gung ho in its social doings. Friday night, starting at six, fraternal festivities at The Monarch Lounge on West 35th Street in Manhattan. Bring your own cigars. Saturday, the Yankee-Blue Jays game (sold out). Sunday is the day everyone gathers at Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn at 12:30 to pay respects at the final resting place of Billy Florence, co-founder of the Ancient Arabic Order of Nobles of the Mystic Shrine. Click here to get a look at what this is like.

But thats not all! After the visit to the gravesite, all are invited to the Annual Mecca Barbecue at the Bushwick Country Club (618 Grand Street), which you do not want to miss.

Monday, August 4  Maryland Masonic Research Society to host its Annual Festive Board. To feature speakers S. Brent Morris and Arturo de Hoyos(!) on “The First Two Exposures of the High Degrees of Masonry.” Books for sale and signing after the program.

August 15-17 – The Masonic Restoration Foundation invites Master Masons to its Fifth Annual Symposium at the Cincinnati Masonic Center. Festive Board, workshops, lectures, a “Scotch Harmony,” and other attractions await. Registration: $100 per person. Click here to sign up.

Saturday, September 13 – A singular occurrence, as The Masonic Society and the Philalethes Society jointly sponsor a symposium at the Scottish Rite Valley of Chicago, located in Bloomingdale, Illinois. Registration costs only $15. Attendance is capped at 100, so click here to book your seat.

Speakers: Alton Roundtree, editor of The Phylaxis; Shawn Eyer, editor of The Philalethes; Steven Harrison, editor of The Missouri Freemason; and Mark Robbins, Education Officer for the Grand Lodge of Minnesota. Andrew Hammer, author of Observing the Craft, will be the keynote speaker at the banquet, a separate event with a $35 dining fee.

Tuesday, September 16 – Second District Masonic Book Club to discuss A Traditional Observance Lodge by Cliff Porter. Dinner at 6:30. At Fidelity Lodge No. 113, 99 South Maple Avenue in Ridgewood, New Jersey.

Saturday, September 20 – The First Masonic Educational Symposium hosted by Wilmington Lodge No. 804 in New Wilmington, Pennsylvania. Four speakers lined up: Charles M. Harper, Sr., author of Freemasonry in Black and White; Juan Sepulveda, of The Winding Stairs podcast; Adam T. Osman, author of Earning Freemasonry; and Shawn M. Gorley, author of Freemasonry Defined.

Open to Apprentices and Fellows. Cost: only $30 per person, in advance only, which covers breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Only 100 seats are available. For information, contact Bro. Gorley at shawn(at)drivenbylight(dot)net

September 25-30 – Joint Triennial Session of both the General Grand Chapter of Royal Arch Masons International and the General Grand Council of Cryptic Masons International at Buffalo, New York. Click here for the registration info.

Saturday, October 11 – New Jersey Lodge of Masonic Research and Education No. 1786 to meet at 10 a.m. in the Haddonfield Masonic Temple in Haddonfield, New Jersey. Agenda TBA.

Steve Burkle
Saturday, October 18Pennsylvania Academy of Masonic Knowledge to host its Fall Session. Professor David G. Hackett will speak on topics from his book That Religion in Which All Men Agree: Freemasonry in American Culture. Steve Burkle will speak on “Early Adoption of Paracelsus’ Alchemical Catechism by the Craft.” Steve knows his alchemy, so check it out.

It’s a full-day affair, beginning at 8:30 a.m. in the Masonic Cultural Center on the Elizabethtown campus. No charge, but advance registration is required; do so by e-mailing to amksecretary(at)pagrandlodge(dot)org, including name, address, lodge name and number.

October 23-25 – The Masonic Library and Museum Association will hold its Annual Meeting at the Trenton Masonic Temple in Trenton, New Jersey. Here is all the information.

Monday, July 14, 2014

‘A Midsummer’s Night Mythology’

New York Mythology Group, the New York City Chapter of the Joseph Campbell Foundation, will take it outside for a night under the stars in Central Park on Wednesday. From the publicity:

A Midsummer’s Night Mythology:
Stories Under the Stars
With Antoine Faddoul

Wednesday, July 16 at 7 p.m.

Antoine will present stories of the constellations as viewed by different civilizations’ myths, with expressions through artworks, and artifacts. Join us for an enchanting evening. Bring refreshments, if you like.

Meet at Cleopatra’s Needle behind the Metropolitan Museum of Art at 79th Street.

Antoine Faddoul is a polymath designer, artist, storyteller, and futurist with a multidisciplinary approach combining elements of astronomy, general science, archaeology, history, art, ancient mythology, and linguistics. He has lectured, written, and edited dozens of books, papers, and articles.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

‘A Thoreau understanding’

Born on this date in 1817 was Henry David Thoreau—philosopher, poet, abolitionist and, most importantly, tax resister.

(Do click this Christian Science Monitor link to see ten quotations in celebration of his birth.)
Speaking of whom: More great programming at the School of Practical Philosophy. From the publicity:

The American Transcendentalists:
Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman

Saturdays, starting September 27
(additional dates TBA)
10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

School of Practical Philosophy
12 East 79th Street

Join in an exploration of the spiritual and intellectual legacy of Emerson, Thoreau, and Whitman, America’s greatest visionaries who can inspire our own work toward self-realization. The Transcendentalists are revolutionary and reflective, and their call is to spiritual insight and universal consciousness. Their writings proclaim and celebrate the need for self-reliance, and a love of freedom and brotherhood—each essential for humanity.

“It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he, who in the midst of the crowd, keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.”

Click here to register.

Friday, July 11, 2014

'Flashback Friday: Where no man has gone before'

DeWint House in Tappan, New York.

DeWint House is one of my favorite places in Freemasonry. Owned and operated by the Grand Lodge of New York as a historic site and museum in service to the public, it is a gem in Tappan. It was used repeatedly as headquarters by General George Washington, most significantly during the grim days of autumn 1780, when General Benedict Arnold’s treason was discovered. Bro. Arnold’s conspirator, British Major John André, was tried, convicted, and hanged in town.

So it was a no-brainer to visit the spot again on the sunny blue sky morning of Sunday, February 19, 2012 to hear Bro. Mark Tabbert speak as the highlight of the celebration of Washington’s 280th birthday. (Click here to see past Magpie posts of DeWint events, including some nice photographs.)

Once again, my notes of this lecture are with That Which Was Lost, but I had the presence of mind to shoot four and a half minutes of the ensuing Q&A. The audience was a bit reluctant, so I asked Mark to describe what Freemasonry was like during Washington’s time. I expected a sharp and unique answer, so as he began to reply, I reached for my little Panasonic and started shooting video, thus capturing a brilliant analogy that could come only from Mark. Sorry the audio is muffled (I was standing all the way in the rear of the room), but it is audible.



Tuesday, July 8, 2014

‘The Garden of Eden in Midtown’

An exhibit underway at the Museum of Biblical Art in New York City may be of interest to all manner of esotericists, students of symbology, and art lovers. “Back to Eden: Contemporary Artists Wander the Garden” aims to serve “as a lens through which to view the relationship between humans and the natural world.”

Courtesy MOBIA.
Study for Expulsion by Fred Tomaselli.
Leaves, pills, acrylic, photo collage, and resin on wood panel, 2000.

From the publicity:

Artists in the Western world have used elements of the Garden of Eden story for centuries as potent symbols: the Creation of plants and animals, the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life, the Forbidden Fruit, the Serpent, the Fall of Man and the Expulsion from Eden. In this exhibition, contemporary artists continue to mine this rich resource for metaphors that are both personal and universal. Barnaby Furnas’s The Fruit Eaters takes the classic subject of Adam and Eve biting the apple, and renders it fresh and vital, with paint that seems to still be dripping, and a violent and malevolent serpent circling menacingly. Jim Dine’s Garden of Eden evokes happy childhood memories of his family’s tool store. Mark Dion, in a work created especially for this exhibition, presents a fantasy diorama of the serpent, imagining how he looked with legs, before he was cursed by God to crawl on his belly.

The garden has for centuries represented a perfect natural paradise that we have now lost. Several of the artists in the exhibition consider the ways in which humans have tried to recreate a “perfect garden.” Naomi Reis’ drawings of imaginary Modernist buildings are overlaid with lush plants and fountains that, like the Gardens of Babylon or the botanical gardens of Victorian times, show the attempt to recreate an exotic paradise within a completely foreign environment. In Lina Puerta’s installations, nature becomes the intruder, reinserting itself into the urban environment, intertwined with manmade sequins and buttons: a garden that is a mix of the natural and the manmade. Mary Temples garden appears as a shadow cast on a gallery wall, caused by light streaming through an imaginary window.

Courtesy MOBIA.
Dwarfed Blue Pine by Rona Pondick.
Painted bronze,
unique, 2009-10.

Courtesy MOBIA.
The Fruit Eaters by Barnaby Furnas.
Acrylic on linen, 2013.

Courtesy MOBIA.
Gowanus, by Alexis Rockman. Oil on wood, 2013. 

The exhibit will close September 28. MOBIA is located at 1865 Broadway (at 61st Street) in Manhattan. Admission is free. The museum is closed Mondays. A pretty remarkable schedule of free events in connection with Eden runs through the exhibit’s duration. Click here, and do take part. You won’t regret it. (I love this place.)